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Herʹcules (3 syl.)


A Grecian hero, possessed of the utmost amount of physical strength and vigour that the human frame is capable of. He is represented as brawny, muscular, shortnecked, and of huge proportions. The Pythĭan told him if he would serve Eurysʹtheus for twelve years he should become immortal; accordingly he bound himself to the Argive king, who imposed upon him twelve tasks of great difficulty and danger:

(1) To slay the Nemʹean lion.

(2) To kill the Lerʹnean hydra.

(3) To catch and retain the Arcaʹdian stag.

(4) To destroy the Erymanʹthian boar.

(5) To cleanse the stables of King Auʹgeas.

(6) To destroy the cannibal birds of the Lake Stymphaʹlis.

(7) To take captive the Cretan bull.

(8) To catch the horses of the Thracian Diomeʹdēs.

(9) To get possession of the girdle of Hippolʹytē, Queen of the Amʹazons.

(10) To take captive the oxen of the monster Gerʹyõn.

(11) To get possession of the apples of the Hesperʹidēs.

(12) To bring up from the infernal regions the three-headed dog Cerʹberos.

The Nemʹean lion first he killed, then Lernēs hydra slew;

Thʹ Arcaʹdian stag and monster boar before Eurysʹtheus drew;

Cleansed Auʹgeasʹ stalls, and made the birds from Lake Stymphaʹlis flee;

The Cretan bull and Thracian marcs, first seized and then set free;

Took prize the Amazoʹnian belt, brought Gerʹyon’s kine from Gādēs;

Fetched apples from the Hesperidēs and Cerʹberos from Hādēs.

E. C. B.

The Attic Herculēs. Theseus (2 syl.), who went about like Herculēs, his great contemporary, destroying robbers and achieving wondrous exploits.

The Egyptian Herculēs. Sesostris. (Flourished B.C. 1500.)

The Farneʹsē Herculēs. A celebrated work of art, copied by Glykon from an original by Lysippos. It exhibits the hero, exhausted by toil, leaning upon his club; his left hand rests upon his back, and grasps one of the apples of the Hesperiʹdēs. A copy of this famous statue stands in the gardens of the Tuileries, Paris; but Glykon’s statue is in the Farnese Palace at Rome. A beautiful description of this statue is given by Thomson (Liberty, iv.).

The Jewish Herculēs. Samson. (Died B.C. 1113.)

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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